The 2016 Survey on R&D Investment Business Trends The 2016 Survey on R&D Investment Business Trends

The EU R&D Survey is a yearly survey amongst the top 1000 EU-based R&D investing companies from the R&D Scoreboard. The 157 participating companies in this report declared a total R&D investment from their own resources of €59.3 billion in 2015, or one third of the total R&D investment by the 1000 companies of the 2015 EU Scoreboard.

The main findings are as follows:

  • The R&D investments expectation for the years 2016 & 17 is characterised by a decrease for big companies from the automobiles & parts sector (-0.8%). This is in stark contrast with the last two R&D Surveys where companies from this sector foresaw a healthy growth figure (around 4%) for the years 2014-15 and 2015-16.
  • Positive expectations of R&D investments growth are the strongest in the high-tech sectors, specifically in Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Technology Hardware, with foreseen growth of around 7-8%.
  • Overall the companies in the Survey expect R&D investments to grow by 1.4% p.a. as compared to 3.0% in last year's Survey. The decrease in growth expectations is mainly due to the above negative expectations in the automobiles sector, which weigh heavily on the overall sample. Without this effect, growth expectations would have been 3.8%.
  • Growth expectations also vary by world region. The EU is the region where the lowest growth is to be expected (0.5%). India (10%), the rest of the world (4.6%) and non-EU European countries (4.5%) expect the highest growth. China shows a striking difference with previous years having passed from double digit expectations to a mere 3.1% due to shrinkage in the automobiles & parts sector. Without the companies from the automobiles & parts sector, the expectations for China would be 8 percentage points higher (11.5%) as well as 2 percentage points higher for all the other world regions.
  • Companies tend to concentrate R&D activities in fewer locations than production activities: 34% of the companies perform R&D in 1 or 2 locations, while for production this is only 17%.
  • The automobiles & parts sector remains the largest employer for highly-skilled workers in the EU. The sectors aerospace & defence, chemicals, oil & gas producers are characterised by a high share of R&D employees as of total employees.
  • Labour costs are rather unimportant for deciding the location of R&D or production activities. Companies attach much more value to high availability of personnel and knowledge, access to (economically and politically stable) markets and proximity to other activities within the company.
  • Regarding the Commission's structural reforms being pursued, the respondents see a higher potential of product market reforms and market regulation for increasing their R&D and innovation than labour market reforms.